Studying abroad can allow you to see the world and create memories that will last a lifetime. But there are also drawbacks to consider before you head out as well. Many feel that you can’t put a price tag on the amazing life experience you’ll get from studying abroad. But you can. Depending on the program you’re studying and what the cost of living is where you’re traveling, it can be quite costly. And really, no matter how long you’re going or how cheap it is, it is going to cost something. Here’s a list of studying abroad advantages and disadvantages to consider before taking the leap.
Studying Abroad Advantages
- Gain an unforgettable experience.
Many people who have studied abroad say it was one of the best experiences of their lives. It challenges you to step out of your comfort zone while seeing the world and experiencing something entirely new. It’s great to take a break from your everyday life to experience something that not many people get the chance to see. You’ll meet new people from across the globe and make lifelong bonds and friendships.
- Experience a new culture.
There’s no better way to see how people live and understand a culture than by living there. You can learn things you just can’t while you sit in a classroom. Actually living in a foreign place can greatly assist with learning the native language. Living there as opposed to visiting, will give you the chance to get a genuine experience instead of a tourist experience.
- Gain a plethora of skills.
Everyday tasks like reading a map, exchanging money and learning to get around on your own is a life lesson waiting for you. These skills can transfer over to being a more profitable employee later on.
- Get an education while traveling.
Simply taking an extended travel break or getting a job abroad is a great way to see the world, but with studying abroad, you’ll be gaining an education. So you’ll be earning a degree while you’re traveling to maximize your time and money.
- Add to your resume.
Surprisingly, only 4 percent of U.S. undergrads study abroad so it’s a good way to make you stand apart. Many of the experiences you’ll have and skills you’ll learn will boost your resume.
Studying Abroad Disadvantages
- It can end up being costly.
While there’s many ways to save up for studying abroad and you may even be able to find scholarships to help you go, studying abroad can be expensive. Besides tuition, you also have to factor in living expenses, travel costs and other costs you may not have anticipated.
- Education standards vary.
The value of a class or degree at one university can differ greatly, and it’s not necessarily going to transfer over once you get back. Essentially, you can be taking classes for no reason.
- It takes a lot of planning and research.
Planning to live in another country takes a lot of research and planning. There’s many documents to get in order and applications to fill out. Depending on where you’re headed, you may need to get vaccinated for country-specific diseases. You’ll need to find a place to live and figure out how you’ll get around. You’ll need to do a lot of research on how to protect yourself financially, too. How will your credit cards work abroad, how will your phone plan work abroad, and how much will things cost are just a few of the things you should be aware of while you’re studying abroad.
- Communication and customs can be overwhelming.
Immersing yourself in another culture can be invigorating and exciting, but it can also be extremely overwhelming. Communication can be difficult if you don’t speak the native language, and even if you do, there are still language barriers even among those who speak the same language but live somewhere else. A new place means a new way of life and different habits and customs you’ll have to get used to. From how you eat, to how you speak, and to what you wear, you’ll need to learn how the locals live.
- It’s not a vacation.
Studying abroad is definitely much different than going on vacation abroad. You’ll be dealing with homework, studying for exams and everything else that comes along with taking a class. Since you’ll be gone for an extended time, you’ll be paying bills, going grocery shopping and learning how to stick to a travel budget.
- You really don’t know what to expect.
While you might be dreaming of the amazing experience you’ll have abroad, it actually may not be what you expect. There can be misunderstandings about your living situation, and not everyone you meet is going to turn into a great friend down the road.
- You’re a long way from home in an emergency.
Being so far away may sound exciting, but it can be daunting as well. You’ll need to know what to do if you get sick or encounter another emergency abroad since you’re a long way from people who can help. The quality of medical facilities and care may be quite different than what you’re accustomed to in America.
- It can be dangerous.
Depending on where you are, it can be a bit of a risk. In many countries, American visitors often fall victim to scams or other theft crimes. Traveling alone while you aren’t too familiar with your surroundings can also make you a target. Of course there are ways to protect your money while traveling abroad and to ensure you’re safety while traveling, but things can happen anywhere. You will need to understand how to protect yourself and what to do if you fall victim to a crime.
Is Studying Abroad Worth It?
Before you make the investment, consider good reasons to go, why not to go, and think about if it is all worth it to you.
If you traveled abroad, was it worth the money? How much did it cost you? Share your experiences, and if it is worth it or not.